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Punishment Due

I see yet another story on the FP about a service department abusing a customer car.


This seems to be a recurring theme lately and it got me thinking - what is the appropriate compensation to the customer?

I think we can all agree that we can start with the need to make the customer whole again. If they had totaled the car the customer gets a new car, if they had grenaded the engine the customer gets a new engine, etc. 


But what about a situation like the one above? If the vehicle isn’t obviously harmed (no dents, dings, scratches, etc.), and still runs and drives as it should (i.e. clutch still works, transmission shifts fine, no weird noises or other issues) what should the dealer be on the hook to the customer for? Judging from the comments, a lot of people are saying “replace the clutch” with a lot of people also suggesting replacingother driveline components.” But which ones, and why? I mean if the car is still runing driving like normal why would you just throw good parts after good?

I have 2 anecdotal stories to highlight my question. First, my sister learned to drive stick on an Acura RSX Type S and the clutch lasted over 200k miles. The transmission is still going strong. Conversely, a number of early Cruzes were smoking clutches by 10k miles under normal use by people who knew how to drive stick. Dealerships wouldn’t warranty the part until the issue was pressed and it was discovered there was a batch of clutches with a manufacturing defect. My point is that I don’t think “learning to drive stick” automatically equals clutch destruction, just like there could be an issue that causes even an experieced user’s clutch to fail early. There’s a lot of variables to consider.


So is clutch replacement really necessary or warranted? And if that’s the route we go, how far do we take it? What about tearing down the gearbox for inspection or outright replacing it? And if so, why stop there, why not the differential(s) or axles? Brakes? Rack and pinion? Bushings? Shocks? Seats? The misusers have affected every part of the car!

Also, if one pursues that route, what dealership is going to do the work? I certainly wouldn’t want the dealer that violated my trust and potentially damaged my car in the first place to do it.


I also think the punishment should fit the crime, so I don’t think they owe them a new car, or a Ford GT or something outlandish.  But I do think the dealership owes the customer something, I’m just not sure what that something is. So how does one determine the punishment due in a case such as the Focus RS where the damage isn’t exactly evident? I’m genuinely curious to hear Oppos thoughts on the matter.

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